Thursday, July 31, 2008

I've gotten some "unusual" emails, but this one beats 'em all

Ever since the shootings at Virginia Tech last year, most colleges and universities now have pretty sophisticated emergency alert systems that text you or email you of everything from robberies to tornadoes. But this one, this is ... odd:

July 31, 2008

There have been several reliable sightings of an animal fitting the description of a cougar on the campus. The description of the sighted cat is: light tan and tawny brown, about 4 feet long with a 4 foot tail, and weighing about 50 pounds. Several sightings have been reported from the area of Cole Field House, near the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and continuing through the wooded areas to the area of the Comcast Center and Arena Drive Garage. There has been no report of aggressive behavior on the part of the animal, but community members are warned that cougars are a predatory species and that, if seen, the animal should not be approached.
I work in metropolitan Maryland. You know, the place the pundits enjoy describing as inside the beltway. In case you're wondering -- no, I shall not be approaching the animal ....

Exxon Mobil profit = $1,486 per second

By now you've probably heard about the astounding profit that Exxon Mobil is reporting for this past quarter: $11.7 billion. And yes, that is an American record. (Woo hoo for Exxon Mobil and their new American record, just in time for teh Olympics!)

The Guardian breaks that figure down for us: Exxon Mobil is making $1,486 per second. Per second! So as you read "per second," they've made another $1,486. And again. And again.

But, ABC provides by far the most disgusting figure in all this, as reported here by ThinkProgress:
Exxon Mobil today broke its own record for the highest-ever profit by a U.S. company, with net income this quarter rising to $11.68 billion. While Exxon officials regularly tout the company’s investment in alternative energy, ABC reported today that Exxon spends only 1 percent of profits on alternative energy sources.

“They’re probably spending more on the advertising than they are on the research,” noted an oil analyst contacted by ABC. BP invested the most out of the big five oil companies, at 2.9 percent.

Life is simpler in Vermont

Thanks to a tip from a co-worker who hails from "my new favorite place on earth" (note the ironic abuse of quotation marks), Rutland, Vermont, I was alerted to this important event from last week:
Crowd mobs Taco Bell opening

Rain fell through the Wednesday afternoon lunch hour, but that didn't stop hundreds of local chalupa-starved residents from lining up for the grand opening of the new Taco Bell on Route 7 in Rutland Town.

The wait time for cars at the tail end of the drive-thru line was estimated at around 50 minutes at lunch time.

"We knew it was going to be big," Matt Prouty, Taco Bell operations leader, said. "We expected this and we're excited to be here."

Customers anxious to get taco fixes were waiting outside the Taco Bell doors as early as 7 a.m. Wednesday— three hours before the doors were set to open.
"Taco fixes" at 7 a.m.? Makes me shudder. Read more from the Rutland Herald here.

(photo from Rutland Herald)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Grammar Head alert!

I can't help it. I've spent too many years as a professional proofreader and copy editor to avoid noticing how often we mangle the English language. So I was "thrilled" when I stumbled across The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

It's "brilliant!" Also not to be missed are:
Lowercase l

Apostrophe Abuse

Passive Aggressive Notes
And yes I am aware, thank you very much, that Grammar is #99 on the big list of Stuff White People Like ...

A killer of a different color

Because I tend to read a lot of "alternative" news sources, it took me a little while to realize that the MSM has not been giving much coverage to the recent killings at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist church on Sunday. That is to say, they covered the event, and moved on.

But what if the killer was not named "Jim" but was instead named, oh, I don't know -- Abdul? Kamal? Hussein? I suspect we would be seeing stories nightly about how this shooting spree was planned and carried out. We would hear about every move the man made.

Instead, this is what we get from the Washington Post:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., July 28 -- An out-of-work truck driver accused of opening fire and killing two people at a Unitarian Universalist church apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its support of liberal social policies, including its acceptance of gays, police said Monday.

A four-page letter found in Jim D. Adkisson's SUV indicated that he targeted the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church because "he hated the liberal movement" and was upset with "liberals in general, as well as gays," according to Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV.

Oh, well then. And at the end of the story:
Court records from neighboring Anderson County indicate Adkisson threatened violence against his spouse several years ago.
Instead of simply reporting this case as one deranged individual and moving on, the MSM needs to look at what makes a white man in America feel oppressed. Rather, who makes this member of the most privileged sector of society feel oppressed. But perhaps that is asking too much, given the shades and genders of MSNBC, CNN, FOX, CBS, and ABC. We all saw how threatened the white male anchors were by the successful primary run by Hillary Clinton -- people like Jim Adkisson are listening and reading, and believing these people.

I believe in free speech. But I also believe in responsible speech. And when the hatemongers of the right wing feed on sick and distraught individuals like Jim Adkisson, they have lost their right to free speech. IMHO.

From the Christian Science Monitor:
"There's a whole category of mass killers who are seeking vengeance against a group of people who they feel are taking away their birthright, their opportunities, and making it difficult to succeed," says Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, author of "Extreme Killing." "They don't see themselves as criminals, but ... as striking a measure of justice, winning one for the little guy. This case may show that [Jim Adkisson] perceived that society has been bending backward to favor disenfranchised groups so they're trying to get some justice for their own victimization."

Wednesday poetry break

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

— Maya Angelou

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why I need to "be there"

The horrific news of the killings at a Tennessee Unitarian Universalist church has hit me hard. Clearly the man who did the shooting was desperate and unbalanced, but why did he choose this place to begin shooting? According to the New York Times:
A man who the police say entered a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday and shot eight people, killing two, was motivated by a hatred for liberals and gay people, Chief Sterling P. Owen IV of the Knoxville Police Department said Monday.
So, was this a "gay" church? No. But according to Out & About, it had just put up a sign recently "welcoming gays to the congregation."

Yes, "welcome" as in the "we are all God's children" kind of welcome. Do you remember what I wrote on Sunday about the Episcopal church I've been attending?
However, the congregation at this church is a little bi-polar. On the one hand, the inside of the bulletin proclaims that "We welcome all ages and abilities, classes and cultures, races, genders, and sexual orientations." Yet, in the monthly newsletter it's reported that a group of 20 met to discuss questions of division and exclusion. The article says "All answers and/or experiences were positive. However, we did not commit to being included on the list of friendly churches for persons of other orientations."
What will my neighborhood church do now? I mean, if they didn't want to advertise being gay friendly before, they're sure not going to be happy about it now. Probably, they'll want the gays of the congregation to keep a low profile, not call attention to this church. You know, step back into the closet. Except the problem with that attitude is that we give up an important piece of who we are, while these hateful people still rule the airwaves:

Rush Limbaugh: "I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus -- living fossils -- so we will never forget what these people stood for."

Melanie Morgan: "A great deal of good could be done by arresting Bill Keller having him lined up against the wall and shot."

Ann Coulter:
LINDA VESTER (host): You say you'd rather not talk to liberals at all?
COULTER: I think a baseball bat is the most effective way these days.

"Sock" Sokolowski, to Stephanie Miller:
As with Cindy Sheehan the best thing that could happen to you would be seeing some WONDERFUL activist sticking an AK-47 up your Glory Holes and sending you into eternity.

(List from Orcinus)

Don't think these words have no effect:
Investigators said they found copies of "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism" by radio and TV host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by radio and TV host Bill O'Reilly.
On Sunday I wrote a long post about trying to decide whether I would continue attending this particular church now that the gay-friendly rector has left. I also wrote about the strange phenomenon wherein you seem to be in a place and time for a purpose. I think I'm beginning to understand it now.

"O's pound Yanks in Bronx"

Really, that headline from the Baltimore Sun says it all, doesn't it? Yeah, but here's some more:
Team gets 17 hits, including 4 HRs, to start road trip on winning note

NEW YORK - Mike Mussina's reincarnation as a soft-tossing right-hander has produced impressive results. He entered last night with 13 wins, one off the American League lead, and had allowed two earned runs or fewer in 13 of his previous 17 outings.

It seems that everyone is impressed by the transformation - except his former team. The Orioles knocked around Mussina for the second time this season en route to their best offensive game in nearly two years. They pounded out 17 hits and belted four home runs in a 13-4 rout of the
New York Yankees before an announced 54,120 at Yankee Stadium.
As an Orioles fan, at this point in the season you just get your joys where you can ...

Monday, July 28, 2008

More gratuitous vacation pictures

Just because it's way more interesting than my tiling job in the bathroom right now, (I know you all want pictures of that project, but trust me on this -- mosaic tiles make you a little dizzy after a while), here's the White Cottage in Woodstock, Vermont. Hot fudge sundae. Awesome. Just awesome:

And here's me at the top of Killington Mountain:

For the record, that is technically not fleece, but a sweatshirt kind of thing. Sigh ....
Double sigh:

McCain Watch: The Voting Record -- Danger Will Robinson!

Just in case you or someone you know is thinking "Well, John McCain doesn't seem that bad." Please, please read over some of his more extreme voting record below, gathered from OnTheIssues:

On Abortion:
  • Supports repealing Roe v. Wade. (May 2007)
  • Voted YES on barring HHS grants to organizations that perform abortions. (Oct 2007)
  • Voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted YES on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions. (Jun 2000)
  • Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
On Civil Rights:
  • Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
  • Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001)
  • Voted YES on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women. (Mar 1998)
  • Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
  • Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)
  • Voted YES on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds. (Jul 1995)
  • Require 90 day delay for compliance before ADA lawsuits. (May 2002)
  • Rated 0% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Rated 33% by the HRC, indicating a mixed record on gay rights. (Dec 2006)
  • Rated 7% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. (Dec 2006)
On Education:
  • Voted NO on $52M for "21st century community learning centers". (Oct 2005)
  • Voted NO on $5B for grants to local educational agencies. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted NO on funding smaller classes instead of private tutors. (May 2001)
  • Voted NO on funding student testing instead of private tutors. (May 2001)
  • Voted NO on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction. (Apr 2001)
  • Voted YES on declaring memorial prayers and religious symbols OK at schools. (May 1999)
  • Voted YES on school vouchers in DC. (Sep 1997)
  • Voted YES on $75M for abstinence education. (Jul 1996)
  • Voted YES on requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer. (Jul 1994)
  • Voted NO on national education standards. (Feb 1994)
  • Rated 45% by the NEA, indicating a mixed record on public education. (Dec 2003)
Health Care:
  • Voted NO on expanding enrollment period for Medicare Part D. (Feb 2006)
  • Voted NO on including prescription drugs under Medicare. (Jun 2000)
  • Rated 25% by APHA, indicating a anti-public health voting record. (Dec 2003)
Homeland Security:
  • Keep “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy - it works. (Jan 2000)
  • Voted NO on limiting soldiers' deployment to 12 months. (Jul 2007)
  • Voted NO on preserving habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees. (Sep 2006)
  • Voted NO on requiring CIA reports on detainees & interrogation methods. (Sep 2006)
  • Voted YES on reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act. (Mar 2006)
  • Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision. (Dec 2005)
  • Voted NO on restricting business with entities linked to terrorism. (Jul 2005)
  • Voted NO on restoring $565M for states' and ports' first responders. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted NO on adopting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. (Oct 1999)
  • Sponsored bill for Iraq budget to be part of defense budget. (Jun 2006)
  • Rated 0% by SANE, indicating a pro-military voting record. (Dec 2003)

I [HEART] Lieberman!

No -- not Joe, silly. Nancy Lieberman. You don't know her? Then you don't follow women's basketball, and you obviously weren't watching women's college ball in the late 70's and early 80's, 'cause Nancy Lieberman ruled!

I ♥ her even more now, because she suited up and played with the Detroit Shock of the WNBA, at the age of 50! Because of a strange turn of events last week involving a brawl (yes, in the WNBA), the Shock found itself down a few players on its roster. So Detroit coach Bill Lambeer called on his old pal, Nancy.

So, she didn't score any points. So what. I still wish I'd seen the game. From the Tuscon Citizen:
With 1:16 left, [Lieberman] zipped a no-look pass to Olayinka Sanni in the lane and Sanni put it in, prompting some of the loudest applause of the night from the crowd of 7,261.

"I think I'll be able to pass when I'm in a wheelchair," she said. "Hopefully, that won't be too soon. But I've always been able to pass and it's fun to make people better."
"it's fun to make people better." -- our thought for the day!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Coincidence ... or not?

I'm a big believer in fate. Not so much in looking ahead, but when I look back at my past, sometimes it's just the only way to explain why things happened the way they did, or why I was at a certain place at a certain time. For example: once, many years ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning only to find that my coffee maker was dead. Completely and utterly dead, even though I had just used it the day before. So I decided to get dressed and walk the 2 blocks to the 7-11 to get a cup of coffee. It was early in the morning and this was a residential neighborhood, so there wasn't any traffic and no one was out and about yet. So it took a moment for my mind to register that someone was saying very softly, "Help. Please help!"

Across the road I saw a man standing behind his station wagon. And as I walked over I saw that his hand was caught between the jack and the bumper. And his face was as white as a sheet. He had been changing his tire when the jack began to slip on the gravel, and he had reached in to stop it. Yeah, bad idea. I think he was aware of this at that point.

Despite those stories of super human strength at times such as this, I couldn't move the car. So I told him I would run back to my apartment and call 911 (this was pre-cell phone days). As soon as I did that, I ran back again. And when a white panel van came up the street, I flagged down the driver, who happened to be a big burly guy. Between the two of us, we got the car up enough to get the guy's hand out, just as the ambulance came screaming up the street.

Turns out I didn't really need any caffeine to wake me up that morning!

In the years that have passed, I still think about that day a lot. Why did my coffee maker die on that morning and not the next? I read somewhere recently the description that "coincidence is God's way of keeping a low profile." Feel free to fill in the word "power of the universe" or however you see this. When you look back at your life, are there times where you wonder how you ended up where you are today? My life has been full of "one thing leading to another."

And today I feel like I'm at a crossroads again. Or at least at another "guy with his hand in the jack" moment.

We went to church this morning because it was the very last service of the Rector who has helped us through this terrible time of losing Unnamed Partner's brother John, to cancer. The Rector came to John, who in turn asked us to go to a Sunday service with him. We did, although we knew next to nothing about the Episcopal Church. But we've met some wonderful people in the congregation there, and participated in baking food for Movable Feast. We started to feel welcomed there. Losing the Rector has felt like losing John all over again, because she has been so important in our journey through the grieving process.

However, the congregation at this church is a little bi-polar. On the one hand, the inside of the bulletin proclaims that "We welcome all ages and abilities, classes and cultures, races, genders, and sexual orientations." Yet, in the monthly newsletter it's reported that a group of 20 met to discuss questions of division and exclusion. The article says "All answers and/or experiences were positive. However, we did not commit to being included on the list of friendly churches for persons of other orientations."

So, you're welcome here, we just don't want to advertise it.

Unnamed Partner and I discussed this last night and went through a range of emotions. We tossed around the idea of getting a busload of queers for next Sunday. We talked about feeling like we're being treated like second class citizens, and that maybe we should stop attending once the Rector is gone. But today after service when I had a moment with the Rector, I (a) thanked her for standing by the ordination of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, and (b) told her that we would be watching to see what happens with the Episcopal Church and this congregation on this issue. And here is my moment of "fate": she said, "have you met X? Because he is very interested in this also. He feels that he has been called here for this."

So. I can stop going to this church. Or, I can continue to go, and work with X to engage members of the congregation in this issue of acceptance and inclusion. I can be there. Just be there. Because as every gay and lesbian knows, the majority of the people in our lives who still say they're "not comfortable" with homosexuality will be the first ones to say "oh, but you're different -- you're normal." It's the best way to battle discrimination -- to be present in people's lives so that they have to face the reality of what they're saying when they say they don't believe in equal rights. I am the reality. In all my boring ordinary life -iness.

So. To be continued, no doubt.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama Quest! McCain's Applesauce Avalanche!

It has indeed been a busy week for both Barack Obama and John McCain. Thankfully, John Stewart puts it all into perspective for us:

Friday, July 25, 2008

We know Barack Obama has one big fan in Germany

Appropriate touching:

Inappropriate touching:

Obama's Berlin speech: He's back on track

Skeptical and jaded as I am, I have to say that Barack Obama impressed me with his speech in Berlin. I felt as though he has regained some of those attributes that first attracted so many progressives. This is the Barack Obama who gives me hope for a better future for our planet. (This is also the Obama who said he would filibuster FISA.)

The Democratic party broke my heart this year, so I cannot say that I give myself up completely to Obama. But after watching this video, I have a little more faith in his ability to do the right thing if elected to the White House. I have always said that he is a powerful and charismatic speaker. And when he is not being pulled into scuffles over Rev. Wright, etc., he really can unite people. So here's hoping his loony unofficial advisers of all shapes and sizes stay out of this thing going into November. And, that whoever wrote this speech stays around.

Friday music video

Is there really ever such a thing as too much Emmylou? I think not. Especially when you add the Indigo Girls and Rebekah Johnson. So, get on the Midnight Train to Georgia, and enjoy!

I've got to go, I've got to go, I've got to go ....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How much does Dana Perino make?

Today, as the new minimum wage goes into effect, you may wonder how much salary Dana "uh, 'Bay of Pigs,' you say?" Perino pulls down each year. You know, taxpayer money? Well good news --now you can find out! The White House has just released it's staff list, including salaries.

Dana Perino makes $172,000 per year.

Yeah. I know.

Another fun fact on the list is that the First Lady's speech writer makes more than the President's speech writer. It kind of explains a lot, actually.

Also, why are there two people with the title, "Director Response Policy"?

And the guy with this title must be very busy: "Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Senior Director for Bio Defense Policy."

But no busier than this guy: "Presidential Support Specialist."

Read it for yourself here.

Beijing Olympics and Human Rights: When worlds collide

2008 has turned into a year of real personal struggle, and I'm sure growth, for me. Throwing my support behind Hillary Clinton as I did late last fall and then watching the primary season unfold was really exhausting to me. Her treatment by both the media and my fellow progressives was often painful and insulting. And now I face the prospect of working to elect someone who I don't think will do as a good a job as Clinton would, just because the other guy is soooooo bad. Which he is, make no doubt.

And now, there's the Olympics.

Normally, I love to watch the Olympics. I remember as a kid eagerly awaiting the next one. I followed the careers of people like Mark Spitz, Olga Korbut,and Steve Prefontaine. In the winter, I watched Franz Klammer, Dorothy Hamill, and Rosi Mittermaier. You see, I was always just a meh athlete -- never the worst on the field, but admittedly rarely the best. My most successful athletic career was in Ultimate Frisbee, where my team was generally known for winning the party, if nothing else....

Sorry, I digress. My point is that for the armchair athlete like me, the Olympics are a time to really respect the awesome power of the human body, and to see people display amazing discipline and dedication to get to the event. But China is a big powerful nation with a serious problem with human rights. And so I am faced with yet another dilemma. To watch, or not to watch. I hate when I have to make a choice like this.

A personal boycott of the Olympics in order to make a point might make me feel "better" politically, make me feel that I'm not participating in something that is sponsored by a human rights violator. But the problem with that thinking is that the Olympics will go on whether I watch them or not. And my not watching is going to have nil effect on China's human rights record.

So I was happy to get the following email today from Amnesty International, which is both informative and helpful with suggestions for action:
China's leadership recently ordered local governments to go "all out" to prevent civilian protesters from tarnishing the Olympic Games in Beijing next month. Can you help Amnesty International go "all out" to focus world attention on the peaceful activists languishing in Chinese prisons by making a donation to our China Olympics Legacy Campaign today? Chen Guangcheng is one of the courageous activists Amnesty International is working to free. The blind human rights defender and legal advisor was arrested in 2005 for filing a lawsuit on behalf of thousands of women in Shandong Province who endured forced abortions and sterilizations to meet local birth quotas.

Chen's wife and lawyers were barred from appearing in court to defend him - and after a 1-day trial he received a 4-year prison sentence. Chen's situation remains grim, as he's reportedly been beaten in captivity. He won the Magsaysay award - described as Asia's Nobel Prize - in July 2007 for defending human rights. But Chinese authorities even prevented Chen's wife from traveling to the Philippines to accept the prize on his behalf.
The next few weeks are crucial for our China Olympics Legacy Campaign. With your tax-deductible gift today, we will:
  • Urge President Bush to call for the release of human rights defenders like Chen Guangcheng and others when he meets with Chinese officials during the opening of the Games

  • Provide American athletes with toolkits to help them speak up - if they choose - about Chinese prisoners of conscience and the government's human rights record

  • Encourage corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's to use their influence to call for an end to the ongoing abuses
The world needs to know that China has fallen far short of the promise it made in its Olympic bid - to improve its human rights record in the lead-up to the Games.
So rather than boycott, I suggest we watch the Olympics and use this as an opportunity to highlight the situation in China. Talk to your friends and family about what's going on there. Call and write your Congress delegation. Make a stand for human rights. Contact Amnesty International today.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And in other traffic-related news ... Robert Novak hits pedestrian, drives on

From ThinkProgress:

Politico reports that conservative pundit Robert Novak “was cited by police after he hit a pedestrian with his black Corvette in downtown Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning.” Novak initially “drove away from the scene,” but turned around when “a bicyclist stopped him and said, ‘You hit someone.’” Novak claimed: “I didn’t know I hit anybody.” But Washington DC’s local ABC affiliate interviewed the bicyclist who saw the incident. WJLA’s Susan Kennedy reported live from the scene:

I just spoke with the bicyclist about three minutes ago. He tells me that the pedestrian was actually splayed across the front of Novak’s convertible, and that there would be absolutely no way Novak would have not known that he had hit someone.

People, be careful out there! The pundits are on the loose!

Old fart alert!

I hate it when it is reinforced to me that I have become ... an old fart. Today's case in point, the headline:

10 ways to avoid a speeding ticket

Because of course my first thought is:

1) Don't speed
2) Don't speed
3) Don't speed

You get the idea.

It's probably also because I read a harrowing story over at PoliTits about DCup's nightmare commute home last night, where she witnessed -- and barely missed being an innocent victim of -- an insane driver, who was driving too fast, among other things. Sadly, another driver was not so lucky and was driven off the road onto the median across oncoming traffic and flipping twice.

DCup, my new hero, got the guy's plate number and called 911.

I drive an hour on the Interstate each way, and I see a lot of "near misses." So I don't really appreciate CNN suggesting that drivers should:

Try to stay in the middle of the pack
Don't speed when you are the only car on the road
Watch for cutouts and modulate your speed accordingly
Drive a nondescript vehicle

To avoid getting a speeding ticket. I mean really. How about just going the speed limit? Why wasn't that even on their list?

photo from

Sense of humor alert!

If you are easily offended, please just skip this post. Personally, I think the ability to laugh at oneself is an important attribute in this world. In fact, it's often the only way I can get through the day! And what I am, among other things, is white. White, white, white. So I find this web site extremely hilarious:

Stuff White People Like

For example, white people like New Balance shoes. Right? If you're white, you know you have a pair -- I have several.

And you know that white people like outdoor performance clothes:

The main reason why white people like these clothes is that it allows them to believe that at any moment they could find themselves with a Thule rack on top of their car headed to a national park. It could be 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday when they might get a call “hey man, you know what we need to do? Kayak then camping, right now. I’m on my way to get you, there is no time to change clothes.”

Though it is unlikely that they will receive this call, White people hate the idea of missing an opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities because they weren’t wearing the right clothes.

If you plan on spending part of your weekend with a white person, it is strongly recommended that you purchase a jacket or some sort of “high performance” t-shirt, which is like a regular shirt but just a lot more expensive.

Also, white people like having gay friends:

If white people could draft friends the way that the NFL drafts prospects it would go like this: black friends, gay friends, and then all other minorities would be drafted based on need and rarity to the region .....
When a straight person goes to a gay night club, they are reminded of how progressive and tolerant they are. If they are hit on by a member of the same sex, it provides them with a valuable story that they can use to prove to their other friends that they are more progressive and tolerant. "This guy/girl hit on me, I said I was ’straight but not narrow,’ and it was totally chill. Oh, you went to an Irish bar this weekend? That’s cool, I guess."
And you know we also like:

threatening to move to Canada
breakfast places

Oh, just check it out yourself.

Wednesday poetry break

Today's poem is by Miller Williams, a contemporary poet from Arkansas. Today's poet also comes with a fun fact: he's the father of one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Lucinda Williams.

If Ever There Was One

She could tell he loved her. He wanted her there
sitting in the front pew when he preached.
He liked to watch her putting up her hair
and ate whatever she cooked and never broached

the subject of the years before they met.
He was thoughtful always. He let her say
whether or not they did anything in bed
and tried to learn the games she tried to play.

She could tell how deep his feeling ran.
He liked to say her name and bought her stuff
for no good reason. He was a gentle man.
How few there are she knew well enough.

He sometimes reached to flick away a speck
of something on her clothes and didn’t drum
his fingers on the table when she spoke.
What would he do if he knew she had a dream

sometimes, slipping out of her nightgown—
if ever God forbid he really knew her—
to slip once out of the house and across town
and find someone to talk dirty to her.

— Miller Williams

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

FISA in 30 seconds or less

I posted this back in February, but it bears repeating:

Russ Feingold explains it all:

Newsweek stoops to new low, prints tabloid coverage of murdered 15-yr old Larry King's life

I was planning to write about the downright horrific journalism displayed by Newsweek this week in their story on Lawrence King, the 15-year old boy who was shot in school by a fellow classmate, but it turns out that Sara Whitman has already done an excellent post on this subject. So I'll let Sara's words tell the story:
I am stunned by an article put out by Newsweek, Young, Gay and Murdered. At best, it is poor journalism, at it's worst, it is a hate crime in itself, paving the way for a "gay panic" defense for the kid who pulled the trigger.

Remember? Larry King was killed? Shot point blank in the head?

Read the article and you'll be informed that in fact, Larry was the problem. He was always the problem. And while kids are experimenting with sexuality at younger and younger ages overall, being gay is dangerous. Heterosexual play is fine but, "Kids may want to express who they are, but they are playing grown-up without fully knowing what that means."

What does that mean?
Please read the rest of her post here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency"

Because sometimes there's more truth in humor than in "reporting":

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

From The Onion ....

Go visit Quaker Dave

Over at The Quaker Agitator, Quaker Dave republishes an important story from CommonDreams. If this paragraph doesn't upset you, nothing will:

In Washington, DC, on July 17, 2008, John and Linda Johnson, the parents of US Army Private First Class (PFC) Lavena Johnson met US Army criminal investigators concerning the classification of the death of their daughter who died three years ago on July 19, 2005 in Balad, Iraq. The Army labeled her death as a suicide despite evidence from materials the Army reluctantly provided to the parents that she was beaten, bitten, sexually assaulted, burned and shot. Despite numerous questions from Dr. Johnson about the Army’s investigation and determination of suicide, the Army stuck to its guns that Lavena Johnson committed suicide. After the briefing, the Johnson’s asked Congressman William Lacy Clay and Congresswoman Diane Watson to request House Oversight and Governmental Reform committee Chairman Henry Waxman to hold hearings that would require production of witnesses who will testify under oath to their knowledge of how Lavena died– an attempt to get information that the Army has so far failed to provide.

Check out the rest of the story here ....

Chipping away at your Constitutional rights -- all in the name of fighting "terrorism"

I'm starting to think "the terrorists" have won. Terror: intense, sharp, overmastering fear. And Terrorism: the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.

Fear and submission? Point in case, from the Baltimore Sun:
Spying uncovered
Documents show state police monitored peace, anti-death penalty groups

Undercover Maryland State Police officers repeatedly spied on peace activists and anti-death penalty groups in recent years and entered the names of some in a law-enforcement database of people thought to be terrorists or drug traffickers, newly released documents show.

The files, made public Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, depict a pattern of infiltration of the activists' organizations in 2005 and 2006. The activists contend that the authorities were trying to determine whether they posed a security threat to the United States. But none of the 43 pages of summaries and computer logs - some with agents' names and whole paragraphs blacked out - mention criminal or even potentially criminal acts, the legal standard for initiating such surveillance.
In other words, the State has become so afraid of "terrorism" that it has violated the law to spy on Americans who speak out against State sanctioned executions. Unless I missed something, we're still allowed to dissent? Remember, freedom of speech and all that? First Amendment?

The ACLU says it best:
"Everything noted in these logs is a lawful, First Amendment activity .... For undercover police officers to spend hundreds of hours entering information about lawful political protest activities into a criminal database is an unconscionable waste of taxpayer dollars and does nothing to make us safer from actual terrorists or drug dealers."
Because this is what the undercover agents found:
The only potentially unlawful activity mentioned anywhere in the documents, she said, were two instances of nonviolent civil disobedience. In one, activists refused to leave a guard station during a protest at the National Security Agency after bringing cookies and drinks for the guards, and in the other, they hatched a plan to place photographs of soldiers who died in Iraq on the fence surrounding the White House.
Do you still wonder why I'm so upset about Barack Obama's vote on FISA? These rights are worth protecting. If we don't speak up now, will we be be able to later?

UPDATE: From RawStory:
Kucinich to investigate police surveillance of protest groups

"[M]ost people would be upset to know that police were spying on lawful citizens and infiltrating peaceful organizations, rather than chasing down real criminals," said Kucinich in a press release delivered to RAW STORY. "At a minimum, such police spying is clearly a waste of taxpayer dollars and a diversion from the mission of protecting and serving the people.

"I want the subcommittee to determine how widespread these activities are and who ordered them," the Ohio Democrat and former presidential candidate said.
Things that frustrate me to no end: The short guy with big ears from Ohio loses out big time to the charming smooth-talker from Chicago. But who's got your back, folks?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Is God laughing at me? 'Cause I know she has a sense of humor ... but this is has got me perplexed

In the past few weeks, I have found a wonderful church where I feel welcome, only to find out that the Reverend is leaving at the end of this month. I'll continue to attend this church as it transitions, but I must tell you that a major reason for attending was this wonderful Rector. Case in point was today.

In this, her next to last (fancier people would say "penultimate") sermon, she spoke of reconciliation. Because you see, the senior Anglicans from around the world are meeting right now in England, but a number of them are in a tizzy because in 2003 the Episcopal church got all crazy and ordained an openly gay bishop. And the world ended. And they're upset. In fact, many senior Anglicans are boycotting the meeting. Some even want to split off from the church.

And in 2003, which was before I started attending this church, my Rector stood before her congregation and said "The Episcopal Church did the right thing." And a third of the congregation left for good. She's been slowly rebuilding the congregation ever since, and I guess it's often been a struggle. But as she's moving on, she left us this morning with this parable:
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while he slept, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. When the weeds appeared, the laborers asked the farmer "Do you want us to go and gather the weeds?" but the farmer says no, for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let them both grow together until the harvest."
Okay, so what you say. Unless that is, you happened to read the post on Friday over at FranIAm's place, which included this paragraph:
But the scripture is there and won't go away. In the face of all that, Jesus tells us a parable: "Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?" the laborers in the story ask the farmer about the bad seed "an enemy had sown." The answer, at a time of great change and deep reflection, ought perhaps to give us great pause: "No," the scripture answers, "because as you gather the weeds you might pull up some of the wheat along with them." We pulled up a lot of wheat with the excommunication of Martin Luther and the reformers, for instance, and have been trying to repair those exclusions ever since. Surely this is no time to start doing the same kind of thing again. Surely we have learned better by this time. Surely we don't want to do it to one nun whose only crime is a question and in whom the people see a minister of uncommon quality. Maybe we ought to "leave some chaff and grain to grow up together" for a while longer until we can see clearly which is which.
I often read Fran's blog, though I rarely comment. It's the kind of blog that makes me want to go think about what I want to say, and by that time, I've gotten distracted by something else. But the point is, she's made me think long and hard about issues of spirituality.

Yeah, she's good.

So anyway, I'm trying to let go of one of the few "truly" Christian people I've met in an awfully long time, and I'm trying to understand why other "Christians" feel threatened by a gay bishop in their church.

I'm trying to understand the parable of the weeds and the wheat in my life. So there's some food for thought on a Sunday night!

So, Sue J, what's going on?

We have hit the ground running since we got back from vacation. The top of Killington Mountain seems like a distant memory. *Loud sigh*

As you may remember, just before we left we had a bit of a plumbing catastrophe that we uncovered in our innocuous remodeling of the upstairs bathroom. Well, $500 later and three plumbing issues have been resolved. So yesterday Unnamed Partner and I finished laying down the subfloor and the backerboard. Thats sounds like so little work, but when you factor in the 98 degree heat outside and the fact that we just have window AC units, the number of times we had to go down to the basement for this tool or that, or carrying pieces of subfloor (plywood) and backerboard (which is really heavy) upstairs. (Oh yeah, and the requisite trip to Home Depot in the middle of everything.) We were so beat that we actually fell into bed before it was dark outside. And when I say we "fell into bed" it's not quite like the old days. We were both asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

If you want romance on a Saturday night, don't renovate a bathroom all day long.

But, I'm skipping over the fact that Unnamed Partner treated us to Indian carryout, and that I had my all time favorite comfort food, Chicken Korma, accompanied by a delicious Bass Ale. What is it about hard physical labor that makes good food and good beer taste all that much better?

I know this post sounds a bit random, but I guess I'm trying to explain why my recent posts have not been very substantive. I haven't been very good about scheduling my time lately, so emails have gone unanswered and posts just roll around in my head.

We're headed off to church in a few minutes, and I know I will have some things to write about when we get back. It's an Episcopal Church in our neighborhood that we started attending when Unnamed Partner's brother, known to the blog world as Scepter66, began to lose his battle with pancreatic cancer. The priest, a woman, came to visit him and we all just fell in love with her. Well, she's leaving this church this month and moving to Connecticut. And I just found out recently her history with this particular congregation before we started attending. Seems she stood up and publicly backed the Episcopal Church's decision to ordaining a gay man as bishop -- and a third of the congregation left. She's been trying to rebuild the congregation ever since.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday music video break

Hectic day today, being the Travelin' Trainer. Hope to have some time to post later today or this evening, because let me tell you: I've got some things that I want to write about. (MD state police spying on peace activists? What?! John McCain says school vouchers will help everyone get a quality education? I don't think so, Senator!)

In the meantime, feast your eyes and ears with a little bit of Emmylou:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The real fear about marriage equality

(Click image for larger view)
h/t to Yikes!

"It's a special occasion"

That's what we say when we let the dog on the couch. Which is basically all the time. But he never jumps up there without asking permission, which essentially consists of his placing his chin on the sofa cushion and then looking at us with the ultimate "puppy eyes." Well, it's a special occasion, we say. Okay!

But today really and truly is a special occasion, because Fritz is here at work with me and is sitting by my feet as I write. A colleague is writing a children's alphabet book using photographs of dogs for each letter, and she needed an "f". So here we are!

We've taken lots of walks this morning and already had one photo shoot, so Fritz is seeming pretty calm. It's unfortunate that there are workmen down the hall today banging on things, but after one bark, Fritz seems to accept their noise.

My colleague has been interviewed by Time magazine about a previously written book of photographs on dogs, called Black is Beautiful: A Celebration of Dark Dogs. (Black dogs are much harder to find homes for.) Fritz is honored to be a part of her new book, aren't you boy? Fritz? Wake up Fritz!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The world is watching

As Amnesty International asks, in whose best interest is it to take a 15-year old boy -- who allegedly threw a grenade in Afghanistan -- into custody and hold him in secret, incommunicado and indefinite detention, and subject him to torture?

Last night the mainstream media broadcast video of Omar Khadr, "enemy combatant," crying and describing to his interrogators ill treatment he had received. To make sure we didn't begin feeling badly about a 15-year old child being treated this way, ABC News quickly put up a photo of the soldier killed by a grenade allegedly thrown by Khadr. There are no eye witnesses to this allegation. ABC did not mention that fact. (And by the way, did it appear that Khadr had legal representation with him during the interrogation? No?)

What has the United States become, when we willingly allow our leaders to sanction torture against children?

From Amnesty International:
No existing international tribunal has ever prosecuted a child for war crimes, reflecting the wide recognition that the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is a serious abuse in itself. This does not mean that a child above the age of criminal responsibility cannot be held accountable for crimes committed in the context of armed conflict, as in any other context. Appropriate recognition must be given to the age of the child at the time of the alleged crime and the rehabilitative priority, however. In February 2007, the month that the Pentagon announced charges against Omar Khadr under the Military Commissions Act (MCA), 58 countries endorsed the Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (and another eight countries have endorsed them since). They agreed that “Children who are accused of crimes under international law allegedly committed while they were associated with armed forces or armed groups should be considered primarily as victims of offences against international law; not only as perpetrators. They must be treated in accordance with international law in a framework of restorative justice and social rehabilitation, consistent with international law which offers children special protection through numerous agreements and principles.” The MCA provides no such framework.
Omar Khadr was 15 years old when he was taken into custody by the US military in Afghanistan in 2002, and has been held at Guantanamo Bay since he was 16. He is now 21. Contact your Senators and Representatives today and tell them you -- and the rest of the world -- are watching. Again from Amnesty International:
“The US has violated international standards by refusing to recognize Omar Khadr’s status as a minor and treating him accordingly.”
hat tip to Cousin Pete for the title of this post ....

Wednesday Poetry Break

Goodbye to Tolerance

Genial poets, pink-faced
earnest wits—
you have given the world
some choice morsels,
gobbets of language presented
as one presents T-bone steak
and Cherries Jubilee.
Goodbye, goodbye,
I don’t care
if I never taste your fine food again,
neutral fellows, seers of every side.
Tolerance, what crimes
are committed in your name.

And you, good women, bakers of nicest bread,
blood donors. Your crumbs
choke me, I would not want
a drop of your blood in me, it is pumped
by weak hearts, perfect pulses that never
falter: irresponsive
to nightmare reality.

It is my brothers, my sisters,
whose blood spurts out and stops
because you choose to believe it is not your business.

Goodbye, goodbye,
your poems
shut their little mouths,
your loaves grow moldy,
a gulf has split
the ground between us,
and you won’t wave, you’re looking
another way.
We shan’t meet again—
unless you leap it, leaving
behind you the cherished
worms of your dispassion,
your pallid ironies,
your jovial, murderous,
wry-humored balanced judgment,
leap over, un-
balanced? ... then
how our fanatic tears
would flow and mingle
for joy ...

— Denise Levertov

I find the following lines especially profound this morning, as I try to reconcile my outrage at several events in the news (FISA and Guantanamo, to name two), with the seeming indifference exhibited by friends and colleagues:

by weak hearts, perfect pulses that never
falter: irresponsive
to nightmare reality.

It is my brothers, my sisters,
whose blood spurts out and stops
because you choose to believe it is not your business.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

McCain Watch: McCain’s extremist opposition to gay adoption

Barack Obama reversed his pledge to stand up against FISA. I think that's wrong and I'll continue to say it. But lest you think I'm not aware what a disaster it would be for this country -- and the world -- were John McCain to slip into the White House (yes, I'm talking to you, Donald!), here's yet another reason why we must not let McCain get elected in November. From ThinkProgress:
In a revealing interview with the New York Times, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — an adoptive parent himself — declared that he opposed the right of gay couples to adopt children, even if it meant leaving children in orphanages:

Q: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?

Mr. McCain: I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption.

Q: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.

Mr. McCain: I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.

Q: But your concern would be that the couple should a traditional couple

Mr. McCain: Yes.

McCain’s position is an extreme one, considering that only one state, Florida, forbids all forms of gay adoption. A March 2007 study estimated that 65,000 adopted children are living with a gay or lesbian parent, and determined that a national ban on LGBT foster care could cost anywhere from $87 million to $130 million.

From the American Academy of Pediatrics:
A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual. Children’s optimal development seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by the particular structural form it takes.
Just one more example of John McCain's extreme ignorance and narrow-mindedness.

The Pickens Plan

While I was on vacation, I happened to see a commercial from T. Boone Pickens that made me sit up and pay attention. He wants America to stop our dependence on oil. It's called the Pickens Plan.

Normally I'm no fan of T. Boone, as he's as right-wing as they come. But I think it is a sea change when a man who's fortunes have come from oil recognizes that that is a dying industry. He's a businessman first and foremost (a real Texas oil man, not like the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., who has a Harvard MBA, family riches, and still managed to fail in the lucrative Texas oil industry of the 1980's).

The main reason why there has not been a push for alternative energy in this country is that there's been no obvious profit motive. We are, for better or for worse, a capitalist country. If there's money to be made, we'll do it. Otherwise, not so much.

Now, we've had some discussions here at the House of Jello about one issue being "more important" than another. You may think energy is not important, or at the least a rather dull topic. But the truth is, energy affects everything in your life. Look around you right now at the things on your desk made of plastic, paper, or metal. They were manufactured and transported using energy. As was the food on your table, and the clothes on your back.

It's not just about the price of a gallon of gas.

President Bush's idea is a plan to open up more land for drilling for this limited resource (again, showing his inferior business acumen). But our future is not in oil. Pickens is correct in looking to wind and natural gas as alternatives for America. This is a major business opportunity for America, not an energy crisis.

Barack Obama is by far the stronger candidate on the issue of energy. However, I would love to hear him frame the issue in terms of the opportunity it provides rather than the standard line that we should work toward oil independence.

Will either candidate acknowledge the groundbreaking move by a wealthy Texas oil man to "get out" of the business?

Monday, July 14, 2008

UPDATED: Sen. Obama, I'm trying, but you're not making it easy for me

UPDATE: is back up and running. I encourage anyone who's as frustrated by Obama's vote on FISA as I am to sign up for the "President Obama, Please Get FISA Right" group. So far, it seems to be a fairly polite and articulate discussion of the issues. And hopefully if enough of us object to Obama's stand on FISA, our collective voice may be heard.

Yes, it's true that I wore an Obama sticker when I marched in the 4th of July parade. The next president of the United States will be either John McCain or Barack Obama, so ....

Part of the reason why I felt comfortable with the sticker is that I had some really good conversations with my cousin in Vermont who is a strong Obama supporter. I felt that he respected my previous support of Hillary Clinton, and that he understood my concerns with Obama's recent stands on issues such as FISA. In fact, my cousin encouraged me to go to the Obama web site, where many progressives who are displeased with this recent move to the center have been leaving comments urging Obama to reconsider some of his recent statements. Enough people have been commenting that it has made the news. Computer World reports:

In a development that shows how users can take Web 2.0 sites in unexpected directions, a group of Barack Obama supporters is using his presidential campaign's official social network to protest the Illinois senator's stance on a bill extending the so-called warrantless wiretapping program.

The social networking group set up on the site to urge Obama to vote against the extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) had attracted more than 24,000 member entries as of last Friday, although some of the entries appeared to be duplicates.

So I thought that I'd check it out this morning and see if I left a thoughtful and polite comment, would I be attacked as a "troll" and all the rest of the things I was called at Americablog, Huffington Post, and the rest. Unfortunately, this is what you get today when you go to

I'll keep checking. Hopefully it'll be back up soon ....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Perhaps I should go away more often

Although I am a little disappointed to come home and see that you all did not in fact finish the bathroom for us, I am also quite relieved to see that there is no evidence of a jello-shot party here, either!

What can I say? We had a wonderful time, and with only occasional opportunities to go online -- plus the fact that we forgot the cord to download from the camera to the laptop, so I couldn't post any photos -- there just wasn't much time to blog. I thought about blogging quite a bit, and went into my own withdrawal, there is no doubt. But it was also nice to fully experience the moment, without the constant thought in the back of my head ("Oh -- I've got to post about that!") Bloggers, you know what I'm sayin' ....

Well, now all photos have been downloaded and you, my friends, are in grave danger of me deciding that "you must look at slides from my vacation," as we used to say back in the old days. I won't subject you to that. But I'll show you a couple of examples why I was too busy to write:

This is me at "The Falls of Lana" near Lake Dunmore in Vermont. (I love that name -- I kept looking for The Lady of the Lake!) The hiking trails were easy and well maintained, but of course we crawled over rocks to get down to the water. The water was so cool and clear, Unnamed Partner took off her shorts and went for a dip, but I'm not allowed to post those photos ...

We took the gondola to the top of Killington and walked around up there (which sure is a lot easier to get around when there's no snow, but I guess if I were a better skier I'd appreciate the unbelievably long trails a little more...) There was no wi fi at the top of Killington ....

And you know we ate well on our journey, because we always do! Most of the time we stayed with my relatives in Rutland, Vermont, and in Odessa, New York, and they all took such good care of us! We had many great meals and conversations. On our jaunt out to Odessa, we also stopped in at the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca:

I have much more to tell you about, and some more images to post (including me marching with the Rutland County Democrats in the Brandon Vermont 4th of July Parade, which is led by Warren Kimble. And yes, I was wearing an Obama sticker. I'm all about taking back the White House -- but I'm still going to take him to task on FISA, gun control and the death penalty.)

Thank you for indulging me in this absence, and for keeping each other entertained while I was gone. I always tell people that I enjoy blogging because I've met the most interesting people here! Honestly, I was worried that if I didn't post for 10 days you all might wander away and never come back. But to be in such a serene place -- both physically and spiritually -- I knew I'd just let it be, and see what happened.

O.k. But for now, I've got a bunch of laundry to do.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Prepare for some sporadic blogging, at best

Unnamed Partner and I will be flying off for a few days to drive around Vermont and upstate New York. (Yes, anything to avoid that bathroom renovation project at the moment.) Of course we'll have the camera, and I will have my laptop, but we'll be sponging off of staying with relatives for the majority of the time and I have no idea what kind of Internet access I'll have.

So I'll check in when I can, but don't be alarmed if we're missing for a few days. I'm sure you'll find blogs to visit, just be sure to come back in about a week. After all, it's aways fun when I go to Vermont -- last year Larry "Wide Stance" Craig was busted for toe tapping while I was in Killington. Fun!

Why do you still shop at Wal-Mart?

I know money is tight these days, but when I see stories like this I just can't understand how people can still shop at Wal-Mart.
Judge finds Wal-Mart violated Minnesota labour laws

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Minnesota judge has ruled that Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) violated state wage and hour laws, requiring employees to work off the clock, and the discount retailer could now face more than $2 billion in possible fines.

Minnesota District Court Judge Robert R. King Jr ruled that Wal-Mart owes $6.5 million to thousands of current and former employees because of wage the violations, which included a failure to give workers their full rest breaks and requiring hourly employees to work off-the-clock during training.
Sure. Isolated case you say. That's until you spend some time reading the news reports over at Wake Up Wal-Mart.

Turns out reports of despicable business practices at Wal-Mart are not so isolated after all.

"Tyson Homosexual Sprints to the Finish Line"

Because this is what happens when you stop thinking for yourself. From ThinkProgress:
And finally: The American Family Association has a policy of replacing the word “gay” with “homosexual” on its Christian news outlet, OneNewsNow. To do so, it has set up an automatic filter. But the system went awry when it ended up publishing a story about a world-class U.S. sprinter named “Tyson Homosexual” (whose real name is “Tyson Gay”). Therefore, OneNewsNow published an AP story reading, “Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.” OneNewsNow said that it has now taken “the filter out for that word.”
Because sometimes a Gay is not a gay.

So men are ... flies?

Sometimes it's really good to get outside the US media and our own little blogosphere, and see what's going on in the rest of the world. You really never know what you'll find. Apparently making the email rounds in the Middle East, is the following photo, which includes this message at the top:

“You can’t stop them, but you can protect yourself.”

The Arabist asks in his post Veil Your Lollipop, "Two obvious (and rhetorical) questions: Can we really not stop harassment? And does veiling really “protect” you?"

Click the image to see a larger version in all it's icky glory ....